Caregivers at Maimonides long-term care home to undergo mandatory testing every 2 weeks

·3 min read

Caregivers at Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Côte Saint-Luc will have to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing every two weeks, the centre announced Thursday as families called for government intervention to stop the virus's spread at the long-term care home.

There are 39 active COVID-19 cases among residents.. Eight of whom are being treated in hospital, while the rest are being treated in a cohort on the home's seventh floor. Since the start of the second wave, fifteen residents have recovered while, eight have died.

An email signed by Jennifer Clarke, the centre's coordinator, as well as its co-chiefs Dr. Jack Gaiptman and Dr. Kris MacMahon, relayed the information to the families of residents Thursday evening.

Clarke said Tuesday the outbreak was traced to a resident who was infected their caregiver.

Earlier in the day, a number of family members rallied in front of the centre calling for government action.

The centre was one of the hardest hit long-term care facilities during the first wave of the pandemic. Families say they worry the centre's management didn't learn from what happened in the spring.

Côte-Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, who said his 62-year-old cousin died at the home during the first wave, has also called for more prevention measures at Maimonides.

Families at the rally asked for mandatory weekly testing of staff and caregivers, and for staff to be given N95 masks to use at work.

They thanked the staff for their hard work.

Clarke, the centre's coordinator, and Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, the president of its local health board, the West-Central Montreal CIUSSS, have defended the home's handling of the outbreak, saying it has implemented several more precautions since the first wave.

They also refuted a nurse's assertion that a colleague had been forced to work in the home's red zone one day and in a green zone the next.

Gabriel Sigler, whose mother is a Maimonides resident, was at the rally.

"I'm very worried. I mean yesterday someone next door to her contracted COVID and was sent to the cohort," Sigler said.

"Luckily she is negative, but when I talk to her she says she feels like a duck in a shooting gallery, just coming closer and closer."

Simon Nakonechny/CBC
Simon Nakonechny/CBC

In the email to families Thursday, the centre's leaders said the mandatory testing for caregivers would beging Dec. 14.

"We value the important role that caregivers play at Donald Berman Maimonides. At the same time, we must ensure that their visits are conducted as safely as possible. Therefore, we have decided to introduce an additional precautionary measure," the email said.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé was asked about the outbreak at the facility Thursday. He said what he had heard about how Maimonides was handling it was positive.

"I asked for a clear exam on this one since this is a CHSLD that had some issues in the first wave," Dubé said.

Rosenberg, of the local health board, said Maimonides has enough protective equipment and patient attendants, but admitted the nurses were short-staffed.

He said the CIUSSS had also applied for a rapid testing pilot project with the Quebec Health Ministry.